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Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik apologizes to left tackle Donald Penn

TAMPA — Left tackle Donald Penn arrived at the Bucs' Fanfest on Saturday night and immediately received a long embrace from quarterback Josh Freeman and several teammates.

Then he was handed a Sharpie and began an autograph session. But instead of a new contract to put his signature on, Penn got an apology from general manager Mark Dominik for last week's "insensitive" comment about his weight.

Dominik said he made a mistake saying during a fan question-and-answer session at One Buc Place that he was disappointed Penn gained 40 pounds in the second half of the 2009 season. The session, the team said, was off the record.

"Donald is an important member of this team and a guy I'm extremely fond of," Dominik said. "We had a good heart-to-heart conversation, and I was glad he came down for the fans."

Dominik's apology, however, did not change Penn's decision not to attend mandatory minicamp, which begins Monday.

Penn, a restricted free agent who previously missed all 14 voluntary workouts this offseason, refused to sign his $3.168 million tender. The Bucs have exercised their option to reduce the offer to 110 percent of his 2009 salary, a loss of about $100,000. He said he and Texans tight end Owen Daniels are the only players to receive similar tenders each of the past two seasons.

Penn cannot be fined for missing minicamp or training camp because he is not under contract.

Dominik said he did not know his comments about Penn were being recorded but still believed an apology was needed.

"The fact is that I made some public statements about my feelings, and I didn't think that was fair (to Penn)," Dominik said.

"You should always live in a world or a society when (a microphone is) always on, and that was insensitive. And that's why I apologized to him."

Penn, who has started 44 games at left tackle heading into his fifth season, said he still is hoping for a long-term extension but said there has been no discussions between the Bucs and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux.

"I really hope that they have me in their future," Penn, 27, said.

"They say, from everything I hear, they want to build around Josh Freeman. He's a great quarterback. So where should you start? It isn't like I haven't proven myself. Even when I was so-called overweight, I still shut down the best of the best all year."

Despite his discussion Saturday with Dominik and coach Raheem Morris, Penn said he was disappointed by the comment about his weight, which was reported to have increased to 380 pounds. Penn said Saturday that he has lost 30 pounds since the end of the season by working out twice a day in California.

"I was very disappointed," Penn said. "But me and Mark had a long talk, and he talked to my agent that day. Mark's one of my biggest fans, so we're good.

"I'm in great shape, and that's one of the things I wanted to get to. I didn't do this for a new contract. I did this for me, for my health. Last year, my joints and little aches were real bad when I was carrying all that weight, so I did this for me … so I could perform better, so I could perform at that Pro Bowl caliber."

Penn said he has not decided whether to report to training camp. What will it take for him to rejoin the Bucs?

"I'm not going to get into that," he said. "I'll talk to Mark and Raheem about that when the time comes. … I don't want to miss training camp. I don't plan on missing training camp."

Penn said he attended Fanfest because, "the fans have nothing to do with this."

"I'm a nice guy," he said. "We've got a small, little fire right now. Hopefully, no more gasoline gets thrown on it."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik apologizes to left tackle Donald Penn 06/19/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 19, 2010 10:54pm]
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